We tried the £45 prix fixe sharing menu, which has three courses plus a lovely walnut and ricotta dip served with crispy sourdough crackers. If the idea of a prix fixe makes you think the menu will be limited, this is definitely not the case at Oklava - we were able to choose between 3-5 dishes for each course, with each option being unique from the others and featuring exciting flavour combinations. Kiazim’s signature trio of acid, texture, and contrast (she has a book by the same name) is all over the menu: celeriac is glazed with cardamom, whilst sunflower seeds and mandarin orange provide crunch and pop; the traditional cheese pide with za’atar is given more depth with the addition of black garlic. You’ll be on your phone googling the names of some ingredients, but this only adds to the allure... Standout dishes include the wild mushroom erişte (a prism-shaped Turkish pasta) in a nutty and creamy sheep’s milk sauce with walnuts and mint; smoked hispi cabbage which was taken up a notch with a punchy chilli butter; and a Sutton Hoo chicken with fried potatoes and atom (a Turkish staple—strained yogurt with dried cayenne peppers, butter, and garlic).
Celeriac is glazed with cardamom, whilst sunflower seeds and mandarin orange provide crunch and pop.
I remember a time when restaurants were finally allowed to reopen after the pandemic, and everyone I knew was scrambling to get a reservation at their favourite place. Then came the post-pandemic peak in dining out, with groups wanting to catch up with each other after months in isolation, resulting in having to book weeks or months in advance for the city’s top spots. And now we’re seeing another shift in dining habits — the cost of living crisis coupled by the huge struggles restaurateurs face in hiring talent has given birth to the newest trend we’re seeing across the capital: set menus.
This autumn, I visited Oklava, the Turkish-Cypriot corner restaurant in Shoreditch that I have dined in many a time. Chef Selin Kiazim and co-owner Laura Christie are no strangers to making changes when the going gets tough; they started trialling a set menu for their diners as early as last year in addition to scrapping the controversial service charge that gets added to guests’ bills. For my visit, I was excited to try Oklava’s new evening set menu, which Kiazim created to highlight seasonal ingredients as well as her famous flame-led cooking techniques, whilst ensuring guests leave with an experience that they’ll want to return to time and again.
Though the team has been transparent about the struggles they’ve faced over the past few years, the approachable and friendly service I’ve always remembered hasn’t wavered.
“The team have been very on board with the changes. They understand the need to think creatively about reducing waste and maximising efficiency, which are both key in such difficult trading conditions,” explains Christie.
“Our menu still has great variety and changes regularly, so it remains as interesting to produce as our previous menu structure.”
Though tough times might mean we are dining out less, London’s quest for good food is as strong as ever. And when you do decide to treat yourself, a visit to Oklava, with its ever-changing seasonal and adventurous dishes will be nothing but rewarding. Christie says:
“We aim, as we always have, to try to give the best experience possible to all our customers, ensuring that money spent with us feels like a special and worthwhile experience.”
Address: 74 Luke St, London EC2A 4PY, United Kingdom
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